The City of Wilmington has settled a lawsuit filed by the mother of a 19-year-old Cape Fear Community College student, who was shot to death in downtown Wilmington in December 2012.
Patricia Proutey filed a civil lawsuit against the city in February 2014 seeking damages for the “wrongful” death of her son, Joshua Proutey, in a city-owned paid parking lot located at 118 S. Second St. in Wilmington, according to the lawsuit filed in New Hanover County Superior Court. Members of Wilmington City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to settle the lawsuit with Patricia Proutey, which claimed more than $25,000 in damages.
On Dec. 13, 2012, Wilmington police found Joshua Proutey in the downtown parking lot near the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center, fatally wounded by a single gunshot to his head.
Joshua Proutey had returned to his car after working at the arts center, when he was shot and robbed by three suspects, according to District Attorney Ben David. The suspects took Joshua Proutey’s cell phone, wallet, $10 in cash and a sandwich. The three suspects fled in a vehicle, driven by a fourth suspect, and were later found on footage from a surveillance camera at a gas station, using the stolen cash to buy gas for the getaway car.
An autopsy report showed Joshua Proutey had been shot with the gun just 4 to 5 inches away from his head, David said.
In the days following Joshua Proutey’s death, detectives charged four suspects with first-degree murder, including 24-year-old Quintel Raheem Grady, 25-year-old Christopher Daniel Cromartie, 20-year-old Daniel Edward Henry and 22-year-old Jasmine Nichole Dottin. All four suspects have since pleaded guilty in the murder case.
Grady, whom David said was the shooter, pleaded guilty on the year anniversary of Joshua Proutey’s death to charges first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon. He was sentenced to life in prison. In April 2014, Cromartie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to 35-45 years in prison.
Dottin – the driver of the getaway vehicle – and Henry each pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon and attempted first-degree burglary in June 2014. They were sentenced to 25-32 years in prison.
The lawsuit alleges that the violent acts committed by the criminal defendants were foreseeable by the City of Wilmington due to the insufficient lighting conditions of the city-owned parking lot and high crime rate in the area.
From January 2007 to the date of Joushua Proutey’s death, the lawsuit claimed that approximately 50 criminal acts were reported in or around the parking lot. The lawsuit claimed the suspects robbed and shot Joshua Proutey while they were “on the prowl for a dark area where they might rob someone.”
The lawsuit also stated that in March 2010, Don Betz, a former member of the Hannah Black Center Advisory Board, gave a presentation to the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee regarding the inadequate condition of the parking lot with proposed improvements, to no avail.
After Jousha Proutey’s death, Betz wrote to Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo to resign from the board, “citing his belief that the city did not adequately address the safety concerns he and others repeatedly expressed about the Hannah Block parking lot, and that this failure ultimately contributed to the death of Mr. Proutey,” stated the lawsuit.
An additional light was installed in the parking lot in January 2013. And then in September 2013, the city proposed additional improvements to the parking lot including an improved access, paved surface and additional lighting totaling $250,000 within the city’s budget for the project.
According to Wilmington City Spokeswoman Dylan Lee, the improvements to the paid parking lot on Second Street were completed early this year, and included new pavement, additional lighting, ADA access, a new pay station and landscaping.
Since Joshua Proutey’s death, his mother formed the non-profit organization, Journey 4 Josh in December 2014. Patricia Proutey started the foundation to help at-risk children engage in positive activities, to discover their creativity and talents through the arts and other enrichment activities.
“Joshua worked at the Community Arts Theater on Orange and Second streets here in Wilmington and was on his way home from work when he was murdered. I wanted some good to come from his loss,” Patricia Proutey said. The organization was “a way to continue the journey Josh would never complete,” she added.
“We are determined to offer a safety net to all our at-risk children, reaching one child at a time,” Patricia Proutey said. “We are a group of real people who simply believe that good ultimately can come from Joshua’s death.”
In a June 2014 briefing following Dottin and Henry’s plea in superior court, Patricia Proutey spoke about her son’s life and his unique personality. Joshua Proutey was just completing his first semester in Cape Fear Community College’s transfer program. His intentions were to finish at CFCC, then enlist in the Marine Corps.
“Josh was just a wonderful kid. And although he was a typical kid–19 years old, off to college doing what most of us do and will continue to do–he was extraordinary in his ability to love and to have compassion and to care about other people, and to put other people before himself,” Patricia Proutey said.
For more information about Journey 4 Josh and volunteer opportunities visit the organization’s website.
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